Book Review

Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire

 

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult fantasy/dystopian, no language, little kissing, some violence
Length: 354 pages
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: New American Library
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

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BOOK TWO SYNDROME.

I wasn’t as mesmerized by this installment. It was good, don’t get me wrong. I’ll definitely be checking out the third one, but I feel a little…deflated.

The story is strong and I appreciate the focus on the plot. There’s a goal, I know where it’s going, and we’re not diving off left and right. While the rescue mission is underway I wanted more drama to unfold.

It’s the beginnings of a war and while everyone is running around for this one mission, we’re missing a lot of what else is happening. I felt some character back stories could’ve been further enhanced to really grip what fuels their decisions. Some characters would pop in, say their peace, then die. Like, wait what?

I still love Jess. He’s a great protagonist. I love that, in general, he owns being from a criminal family and uses that to his advantage. I hope his brother, Brendan plays a bigger role soon. In my mind he’s super complex and I think it would be fun if he had a bigger spotlight.

There’s touches of romance here and there between characters. Nothing intense, sweet tiny moments that were cute and added some flair. This gang is really bonding together and their devotion is starting to show more and more. I like the diversity of the group and can notice the differences in their personalities and choices based off of them.

It ended on an odd note with the addition of a new character crew, and a new landscape. I’m definitely interested in what will play out next!

Overall audience notes:
– Young adult fantasy & dystopia
– No language
– Kiss scenes are minor
– Gun violence

Book Review

Review: Dance of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #1) by Mary E. Pearson

Dance of Thieves_FINAL 9.18

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy romance, kiss scenes, violence, very little language
Length: 508 pages
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

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BRB, STILL SWOONING.

This was everything I’ve been wanting to read lately. A fantasy romance that kept me on my toes, made me laugh and flip out all at the same time.

It single-handedly had one of my favorite boy meets girl intros:

“…”Move along, boy,” I ordered. “This doesn’t concern you.”
  His eyes went from bloodshot to flaming. “Boy?” He stepped closer, and in one swift movement, I brought him to his knees and slammed him up against the apothecary wall, a knife to his throat.”

Copy of C.R. (1)

I mean, is that not great? Go Kazi. She was strong, capable and loyal to her kingdom. I think she and Jase could have both been more open with each other and there would have been less issues, but that’s neither here nor there because I still love this book.

The romance totally made me weak. Jase was an enjoyable male protagonist and love interest that so fiercely loves his family. This attribute rolled over into how he cared for Kazi and I was smitten. Their moments and interactions were everything, and watching them both find ways to help each other be at peace was tender.

I love that we got to stay in the same world and see some of the same characters!! The Remnant Chronicles is a fav of mine I highly suggest reading it before this if you don’t want anything spoiled.

The plot was thick with intrigue. Took awhile (while developing the romance and other connections) to swing back around to it. I couldn’t put the book down though because I could feel from the moment it started I was going to be torn apart before being put back together. There’s plenty of action and family just hanging out scenes that balance each other. I came to care for all of the characters based off of how they interacted with one another.

The evil in this book is hard to pin point. This guy is bad over here, this one os doing nefarious things over there. I think it will definitely be playing a part in the next book. There was a lot of story still there to work with. Overall, it was great to be mysteriously led to the ending…

WHICH WAS EVERYTHING. “swoons again*

Seriously. I needed the book to end this way. I got allllll I could ask for (because I’m a huge “happy ending” sap). Then you’re left on a huge cliff-hanger that had me immediately searching for the release date of book two.

Overall audience notes:
– YA fantasy romance
– very little language
– kiss scenes, mildly descriptive at most
– violence, torture, a bit bloody

Book Review

ARC Review: The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

The Wren Hunt

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, language, some violence, a few kissing scenes
Length: 432 pages
Author: Mary Watson
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Expected Release Date: November 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.

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*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, for the opportunity to read The Wren Hunt. Publication date, length of book, etc. are subject to change. 

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ADD THIS TO YOUR TBR, Y’ALL.

I stayed up way to late trying to finish this book because I could not. put. it. down.

It initially starts out a bit slow and confusing. There is a lot of discussion of judges vs. augurs, when you haven’t quite been told what those are. The most confusing bit was understanding the Nemeta. I finished this book and still not quite sure what those are, but alas, this book still gets a lot of praise from me.

Once some more lines are established the book increasingly becomes a page turner. The action fluctuates well and it keeps the flow of the novel going steady.

The romance though. It’s always hard in a standalone to play a good romance (in my opinion). Watson does such a great job at this! Tarc and Wren gave me all the feels. There’s a strong push and pull between them that without even realizing it has it’s own consequences.

If like me, you had to read Romeo & Juliet in high school then you can definitely see the parallels. Yet, the approach itself felt new. It is a fantasy book, but with a contemporary edge. I loved that. Threw me off at first, but the longer I went, the more I grasped onto that concept. Pay attention to all of the lines weaving through this book! It was fun to see where they all connected and formed the final web.

The side characters are a little mixed. I personally liked a few, and didn’t like others. There wasn’t an over-abundance of names though. So you aren’t sitting there trying to figure out who’s who. It’s also set in IRELAND! Nifty and different. I love the branching out in story sets I’ve been seeing from a lot of authors I’ve read recently.

Wren is a sound character overall. Her arc allows some depth and growth as she fights to stay loyal in a losing battle only to realize the betrayal around her. She is young and naive about some things, but it was never annoying to me. It played out well and you understand her choices. Wren finally decides to stand up for what she wants and makes the ultimate decision.

Overall Audience Notes:
— Young adult fantasy, set in a contemporary world
— Language
— Kiss scenes are very mild
— Violence in the forms of fists, knives, and guns

Book Review

ARC Review: Evenfall (Shadowfire #1) by Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

Evenfall

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, language, some violence, kissing scenes
Author: Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos
Publisher: Boris Kos
Expected Release Date: October 30th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A monster does not deserve the intimacy of a name

As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.

Hunted by the Crescent Prince and his lethal shadows, she accepts a young Mage’s help to navigate the land of blood magic and its many illusions. But where Ada sees the good in her power, Ember discovers something else.

An icy darkness, designed to take lives, not save them.

The only thing worse than not being able to rely on her senses—or the reality she had once believed to be true—is knowing that she cannot trust her heart. Especially as it seems to draw her to the one person in whose hands she can never fall…

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

*Note: I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Boris Kos, for the opportunity to read Evenfall. Publication date, etc. subject to change.

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A TALE OF TWO BOOKS.

I was truly contemplating putting this book down through the first half. I felt like I was reading about Ada’s story rather than Ember’s and Ember was some kind of narrator for the entire saga.

Ember wasn’t doing anything for herself and was following Ada around agreeing to everything she said and not forming her own opinions about the plans to defeat the Crescent Prince. I was annoyed to no end about how everyone kept calling Ember a savior, the One, etc., but she herself had NO IDEA what anyone was talking about!!?

It was missing dialogue as well. I was tired of being in Ember’s head (since aforementioned, she wasn’t doing anything worthy of my time) and wished there was more time spent on conversation with others.

Then, I got to the half way point.

Then, I met Mordecai.

Then, things got SOOO much better. I mean really, I thought I was reading a different book altogether.

Ember grew a backbone (for the most part) and Mordecai gave me the answers I was craving. I finally had a world mostly built and understood the plot more deeply. At this point, my connection with Ember and Mordecai started to form.

The relationship borders on instant, but thankfully, some time is taken for true emotion to form. The push and pull is fun and gives more edge to Ember and humanity to Mordecai.

The story became increasingly darker. I enjoyed every second of nefarious characters showing some twisted benevolence.

Left on a cliffhanger at the end I’m not sure what to think. I really want more. I want the next story and to continue in this world. Truth be told, there needs to be more world AND character building. It took til literally the closing chapters to know how Ember showed up in a different world in the first place. That’s why I struggled to like her as a character. I wanted to understand her decisions more and hope to get more of her history (parentage, friendships, etc.) so I can really get behind her as a heroine. Same goes for all characters. The book is on the shorter side so not as much time was put into character back-stories. I have hope that the second book will deliver and fill in the hand-full of plot holes.

I had originally intended giving this book a two star rating, then three, but chose to go with four because the second half drew me in too well not to be acknowledged. I’ve been entranced enough by the Crescent Prince to need more of him.

Last note, this book was a total cover request. Merwild does AMAZING artwork and I’ve been a fan for awhile. This cover is absolutely gorgeous.

Overall audience notes:

— Young adult fantasy
— Language, often not necessary and sometimes jarring (to me personally)
— Deep kisses / make-outs, no love scenes, everything on the tasteful spectrum
— Language involving a sexual assault (Ember has a flashback)
— Minor violence; use of blood is spoken of a lot because that’s how the world’s magic is used

CROPPED

Book Review

Review: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

Girl in the Tower

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction fantasy, a little language, some violence, some kisses and lewd commentary
Length: 363 pages
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

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OH THE ADVENTURE.

I read the first book in this series over a year ago and remembered enjoying it, but thinking, WHOA that was a lot of story. The Girl in the Tower exceeded my expectations for a middle novel. I was able to be even more immersed in the story because I understood the characters and plot much better after The Bear and the Nightingale.

Vasya is a strong heroine. Not letting her life be put into a box of marriage or a convent, she rides out for her own adventure. And what wanderlust she found! The prose and descriptions of vast Russia are beautiful. Arden interweaves world building and commentary so well you get swept away.

One of the few things I didn’t love was how much everything was Vasya’s fault. This death, that destruction, etc. She could’ve used a break, bless her heart. Vasilii the Brave is a heroine and deserved more praise under her guise.

The love tale woven throughout makes me giddy too. I look forward to more of Morozko and Vasya in the next book. This book isn’t heavy on the love either, and for a reader, I think that can sway them on way or another. I really appreciated the way it was set up. It stands apart from some novels too focused on the love. Vasya has so much loyalty and love for her family. It’s what makes the love with Morozko all the more sincere and tender.

Multiple POV helps you gain an understanding from many different characters. Vasya, Olya, and Sasha are a few on the group who get a momentary narrative. I always love when an author can handle so many characters at once because it enhances the story from all sides.

Can I almost mention MY LOVE FOR SOLOVEY? I want a magical horse that speaks to me. His fierce protection over Vasya gives me all the heart eyes.

I love the historical fiction aspect. Arden has degrees in Russian and tells the history and uses the aspects of names, times, and places to create a magic filled fantasy.

Overall audience notes:

  • A young adult fantasy book that could easily be enjoyed be an older audience
  • Sparse language, did not detract from the story
  • No love scenes, some kissing scenes (all safe for work)
  • Some lewd commentary about rape, and wanting to sleep with others
  • Some violence with minor gore
Book Review

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some love/kiss things, some violence
Length: 448 pages
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bay
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

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LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT.

*sigh*

I climbed up real high on my soap box tonight to say that I truly can’t stand love triangles. They’re very few situations where I thought it worked out enough that it didn’t bother me, but most of the time I’m too distracted by the wishy-washy heroine who can make up her mind on dying for her country, but not about what boy she likes.

With that in place the rest of the story remained a struggle for me. I didn’t quite understand where the Little Red Riding Hood tale fell into place either. Rachelle wearing a red cloak and prancing through the forest were about as LRRH as it got.

The world-building was neat. I did like that and felt the time spent there was well done. There was enough to understand the politics of the game, but not so much I began skimming.

The two love interests are fine. I actually liked Eric a lot more. He was cruel, deadly, and twisted. Which always makes for a good, dark book. Armand was lack-luster and was horrible at putting any of his own plans together. He was dragged from one scenario to the next without stopping to ask if it was the best idea.

The layout changed from her first book. The extra story was put at the end of chapters so you actually noticed it, and actually understood where it was supposed to be in regards to the current plot line. This is definitely an upgrade.

Everything fell flat in the end for me. It was dark, but eroded as the book went on. At least she finally chose someone, I guess.

Overall audience notes:

A young adult fantasy book with no language. The one love “scene” is super glossed over that you barely notice it. No descriptions or anything of that nature. Some violence, lightly gory.

Book Review

Review: Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu

Wildcard

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult, very little language, some violence, a love scene
Length: 341 pages
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam
Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

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MIXED EMOTIONS.

This book is good, it is, but the author has let me down yet again with the ending.

[*side note: The ending to the Legend series was fine, but I thought it could have been a lot more satisfying. The Young Elites ending also left something to desire for me, so upon reading her third series I’m once again feeling let down.]

I wanted more. More about Hideo, about Sasuke, the Phoenix Riders, everyone. I think an epilogue would have been beneficial and would have satisfied my craving.

My main issue was Emika is so bland. She jumps from the Blackcoats, to the Riders, to Hideo, doing whatever they ask and not really following her own ideas. The action is there and intense, but because she lacks independence it runs dry.

The love story leaves you wanting more. It even says in the description that Emika has to take down the man she loves. I DON’T EVEN SEE WHERE THERE IS LOVE. They are barely in the book together, the one love scene is nice and all…and totally expected. A little extra fluff for the plot to give us what we thought we wanted. My heart was way more invested in Roshan and Tremaine’s story than Emika and Hideo’s.

Speaking of side characters, I missed them too. I missed the Phoenix Riders. Their presence is small and forced. Their dynamic was so fun in Warcross! It would have been nice to see them really all together.

I do appreciate we got all of Sasuke’s story. And that Jax was included. She was a great addition to the book. The plot focuses on Zero’s story and was fascinating for a sci-fi novel! The twist grabbed me and had me reconsidering my opinion on all things data based. That was different and great to read.

A young adult sci-fi novel. There is a few swear words and some violence. Discussion of suicide (no details). The love scene is glossed and small.